New Car Review
2017 Ford F-150: New Car Review
On the face of it, the 2017 Ford F-150 seems to be yet another American full-size pickup — just as F-series trucks have been for decades. But appearances can be deceptive. This generation of F-150 uses mostly aluminum for its body instead of steel. Aluminum is tough, but much lighter. The benefit is in fuel consumption and payload capacity. Here's another twist — the range-topping engine isn't a big V8. It's a turbocharged 3.5-liter V6.
Making the truck even more compelling is a comprehensive list of features from luxury options to advanced safety equipment. Ford doesn't have things all its own way, though. The competition is fierce, but the F-150 has everything it needs to be a winner. It's frequently one of the best-selling vehicles in the United States.
What's New for 2017?
The Raptor is back. This special off-roading version makes people with white-collar jobs think about getting a work truck. The turbo V6 has been upgraded and linked to a new 10-speed automatic transmission. And the XL is now eligible for a new STX Appearance Package.
What We Like
Excellent driving dynamics; impressive capabilities; good gas mileage; comfort, convenience and safety features
What We Don't
The ride can feel stiff when the truck is unladen; repairing aluminum body panels is more expensive; options drive up the price considerably
$27,925 to $60,990
The F-150 uses a 6-speed automatic transmission in most variants, apart from the updated turbo 3.5-liter V6, which is paired with a new 10-speed automatic transmission. Rear-wheel drive is standard; all-wheel drive is optional in all models except for the Raptor, where it is standard.
Engine-wise, a base-level 3.5-liter V6 makes 282 hp and 253 lb-ft of torque, returning 18 mpg city, 24 mpg highway and 20 mpg combined (rear-wheel drive). The figures for all-wheel drive are 17/23/19 mpg.
The optional 2.7-liter turbocharged EcoBoost V6 puts out 325 hp and 375 lb-ft of torque. With rear-wheel drive, fuel consumption is 19/26/22 mpg; 18/23/20 mpg with all-wheel drive.
The 5.0-liter V8 is a carryover from the previous generation, but could still be a useful choice for towing (see below). It makes 385 hp and 387 lb-ft of torque while achieving 15/22/18 mpg in rear-drive form, or 15/21/17 mpg with all four wheels being driven.
The first of the turbocharged 3.5-liter V6 engines (also called EcoBoost) makes 375 hp and 470 lb-ft to torque. A new 10-speed automatic transmission is installed for 2017. This combination achieves 18/25/21 mpg as a rear-driver, or 17/23/20 mpg with all-wheel drive.
King of the propulsion hill is the 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 in the new F-150 Raptor, developing a muscular 450 hp and 510 lb-ft of torque. This is also linked to a 10-speed transmission and an all-wheel drive system as standard: 15/18/16 mpg is the resulting consumption figure.
Standard Features & Options
Choosing a 2017 Ford F-150 is not a straightforward task. There's a multitude of configurations that involve regular cab, Supercab (extended) and Supercrew (what everyone else calls a crew cab); bed lengths measure 5.5, 6.5 or 8 ft (the two longer beds come with the two smaller cabs and the Supercrew is eligible for the shortest bed). Then there are the engines, trim levels and options bundles. The trims, in ascending order, are XL, XLT, Lariat, King Ranch, Raptor, Platinum and Limited.
XL models ($27,925) are bare-bones work trucks. Standard equipment includes an AM/FM stereo with a clock (but no CD player or USB port), 4.2-in screen in the center stack for audio controls, air conditioning, trailer sway control, trailer connection wiring, side curtain airbags, tilt/telescope steering wheel, 17-in steel wheels and little else. Not even power windows.
All-wheel-drive versions of the XL are eligible for the FX4 Off-Road package (electronic locking rear axle, specialist suspension, skid plates and hill descent control). Other options include side steps, tailgate assist step, drop-in or spray-in bedliners and trailer tow packages with the Pro Trailer Backup Assist feature (basically a self-steering system for backing up to a trailer).
XLT ($33,295) adds power windows and locks (including the tailgate), power mirrors, cargo management system (with four tie-down cleats), remote keyless entry, cruise control, Sync voice controls, smartphone app integration, USB port, CD player, 17-in alloy wheels, some exterior chrome work, carpeting and a few more cabin stowage areas.
Lariat ($41,655) brings leather upholstery, heated and ventilated front seats, power-adjustable pedals with memory, keyless access/push-button start, Sync 3 infotainment system with 8-in touchscreen, satellite radio, rearview camera, LED bed lighting, and 18-in alloy wheels.
Raptor ($50,715) is available in Supercab and Supercrew forms, both with the 5.5-ft bed. It has a specialized suspension with longer travel and increased ride height (compared with a regular all-wheel-drive F-150), specialized all-terrain tires, transfer case for the 10-speed automatic transmission, Torsen (torque-sensing) front differential, Terrain Management System, skid plates, running boards, tow hooks, LED grille lights, most powerful turbo V6 and 17-in alloy wheels.
The western-themed King Ranch ($51,870) comes only with the Supercrew cab, which contains a remote starter, remote tailgate release, heated rear seats, heated steering wheel and a 10-speaker Sony audio system.
Platinum ($54,425, Supercrew only) is more conventionally luxurious. It includes aluminum interior trim, voice-activated navigation, automatic high-beam detection, automatic parallel parking assistance, blind spot monitoring, power running boards, 20-in alloy wheels, and a series of exterior upgrades.
Limited ($60,990, Supercrew only) has 22-in alloy wheels and is loaded up with virtually all that's optional in the lower levels.
And there's a lot of equipment available. Major upgrades include a panoramic sunroof, 360-degree camera system, adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assistance, massaging seats and a segment-exclusive panoramic sunroof. As is usually the case, some equipment that's standard in the higher trims may be optioned for the lower levels. For example, XL models can be upgraded with most of the XLT's features.
Standard safety items include side curtain airbags, anti-lock brakes, daytime running lights and traction/stability control. Options range from parking sensors to adaptive cruise control, lane-keep assist and blind spot monitoring.
In government crash tests, the F-150 received five out of five stars overall; five for front and side impact protection, and four stars for rollover protection. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has also made it a Top Safety Pick after the truck won the top score of Good in five major categories.
Behind the Wheel
Aluminum construction means the F-150 feels more nimble than its rivals. The handling/comfort balance is surprisingly good for the most part and the steering is pleasantly direct. It's only when speeds are higher that the limitations of rear leaf springs are more easily felt. The cabin is well thought out and generally welcoming. Bottom line, the F-150 is a great all-rounder.
With the basic 3.5 V6, maximum towing capacity is 7,600 pounds. Using the 2.7 turbo V6 allows 8,500 pounds of towing. The 5.0-liter V8 is capable of 11,100 pounds, and the 3.5 turbo V6 can pull 12,200 pounds. Payload capacity gets as high as 3,300 pounds.
There's no argument or discussion necessary. Anyone looking to buy a half-ton truck must absolutely consider the F-150.
Other Cars to Consider
2017 Chevrolet Silverado -- The usual rival to the F-150. Favors big V8 engines for higher trims, as opposed to turbocharged V6 engines.
2017 GMC Sierra -- Mechanical twin to the Silverado. If you like the Chevy, you'll like the GMC. Try shopping them both to see where you can get the better deal.
2017 Ram 1500 -- Refined and capable. Rear coil springs provide a comfortable ride. Options include air suspension and a diesel engine.
2017 Nissan Titan/Titan XD -- The XD version straddles the ground between a half-ton truck and a three-quarter-ton truck. A superb machine, highly capable and with an excellent Cummins diesel engine. The regular Titan is also well worth a look.
2017 Toyota Tundra -- No-nonsense functionality and definitely no cowboy-themed trim levels. Getting a little old, though.
The whole F-150 range has an excellent combination of standard and optional equipment, decent fuel economy, strong capabilities and impressive driving manners. It could be that the most basic version will do the job. But a Lariat with the updated turbo 3.5 V6/10-speed transmission combo looks tempting, because of its broad range of capability and features.